SIMPLIFY: Declutter Your Workspace

{photo credit Balanced Crafts- click photo to go to source}

I once read somewhere that an organised home means an organised mind. Keeping our studios and workspaces full of clutter makes it harder to focus, to find what we need and be productive.

We all know this, yet during busy times it’s easy to let organisation slip. The New Year is the perfect time to get things in order. Over time materials, inspiration and other bits you use for your business accumulate. We often keep them ‘just in case’ or because “I could use that for xyz one day”. Months and years pass with them staying unused and in the meantime we feel dragged down by all that extra stuff.

So today is dedicated to purging our workspaces of all the clutter, ready for us to organise what’s left.

My top decluttering tip:

Be ruthless

Anything you haven’t used for over a year needs to go. Don’t think about it. Just get rid of it. You can donate, giveaway or throw depending on the item.

This will be hard, I’m not going to lie to you. As a natural hoarder it goes against all my instincts to let go of things I might need in the future. Being ruthless ensures I work quickly and efficiently so I hope this tip works for you too.

Another trick I try if I’m struggling to decide whether to keep something is ask this question:

“If I was going to emigrate to (insert amazing country of your choice here), would I take it with me?”

It works like a charm! Right, let’s get started.

Start with your desk

It’s the space you use the most so you will feel the benefits immediately. Get rid of anything you don’t need right now and put away the rest in their dedicated spaces.

Papers

I’m one of those people that keep every little scrap of paper that I might need in the future. If you’re the same go through your stash and limit your paper scraps to one box. Recycle the rest.

Craft, sewing, pattern and business books

Clear out any books you no longer read or have never opened! If they are still in a good condition you can give them away or resell them. I give away books on Freecycle, that way someone else has the opportunity to learn something from them and all they have to do is come and pick them up.

Magazines

I have to buy a lot of magazines for my PR work but try to only keep the last few issues in my workspace, donating the rest to the hospital or local hairdresser. I always keep Christmas issues because of the lovely inspiration but limit myself so I buy only one or two per year.

I’m not sure I’ll ever part with my Mollie Makes as it it is such a quality magazine but it’s the only magazine I buy for pleasure each month so I’m allowed!  If you have enough storage space you can keep hold of more but flick through to see if you really want it, you might just need to pull out a few pages and keep those instead.

Materials

Pens, paints, sewing pins, paintbrushes; whatever materials you use to create your work keep only what you use regularly. Then put like with like to make it easier to find what you need, when you need it.

Receipts and invoices

Keep these. Most countries require you to keep these for several years. Keep them together and we’ll organise them later.

Packaging and shipping supplies

I try to recycle as much packaging as I can so this area can get out of hand! Go through recycled packaging and only keep the best. The rest you can take to the recycling plant.

Notebooks and sketchbooks

These are one of the only things I advocate keeping. It is important to keep your ideas and inspiration not only so you can look at it and continue to be inspired but as proof of how your ideas developed. You never know when you might be called upon to show how you came up with an idea. Date them and keep them somewhere safe.

Ideas for destashed supplies, craft and sewing books

Not all items need to go into a landfill. Where possible try to pass your supplies on to someone else. This not only saves the environment but can also be a nice way to get someone else started on a crafting journey!

You can;

  • Donate to an individual, charity, thrift store or hospital.
  • Make craft kits- Any little bits and bobs that I think my kids could use for something fun I put together in little craft kits. Scrap cardboard, offcuts of patterned paper, old magazine pictures, bits of ribbon or wool that are unusable because they are too short or the ribbon has frayed etc. I keep these in a brown envelope or cellophane bags then get them out on a rainy day as a surprise. If you don’t have kids you could put together kits for a local children’s hospital or charity. They are fun and a lovely way to encourage children to use their imagination.
  • Gift them. Craft books make great gifts. Put together a little starter kit for the craft in question with your unwanted supplies. So for example, a book of knitting patterns, with some knitting needles and yarn you no longer need.
  • Sell them. Extra supplies can be sold in a pop up shop for other crafters to buy. This works well for jewellery supplies like beads and findings, fabric which you can put into packs and shipping supplies like envelopes and tags.

It’s amazing how much lighter you will feel after decluttering your workspace and supplies. Work briskly, trying not to give to much emphasis on the item in question. A lot of what we want to keep is for emotional reasons. Try to distance yourself from the physical item and instead stay focused on your new and improved clean, calm space.

As it can take a bit of time to destash all the extra stuff, we’ll be publishing the next stage of how to organise what you decide to keep next week- once you’ve had a chance to clear everything out.

Do you have any tips? I’d love to hear any suggestions you have tried in the comments.

Extra reading: This post from True Up was first published in 2008 but has lots of great tips on how to destash your fabric!

10 Comments on “SIMPLIFY: Declutter Your Workspace

  1.  by  Patti

    I try to stay on top of the “collections” as my Nanny use to call them. I’ve been trying to keep up by performing a quarterly studio purge. It’s hard to let go of things we think we might need at some future date… but it’s even more difficult to focus on work tasks with clutter in the workspace.
    I love the “emigrate” question! Brilliant. That would certainly make deciding keep vs. purge easier. lol

    Great food for thought, Isa.

    •  by  Isa Maria

      I almost wish I was emigrating so I could just leave all the junk behind! It’s amazing how much stuff I have that I probably would never even miss. I love the idea of doing a quarterly purge!

  2.  by  Brianne of VintageChild:Modern

    As a children’s fashion designer, I have fabric scraps coming out of my ears. I cannot bear to throw any fabric away, but you got me thinking about how much I hate fighting with my bags of scraps constantly. I think I may group them into cute little bunches and make up a note about ways to use them for children’s craft projects and start sending them as little gifts with my orders. Thanks for the reminder that these things tend to clutter our space AND our minds!

    Brianne
    PetalPetal and VintageChild:Modern

    •  by  Isa Maria

      Hi Brianne, what a lovely way to use up those scraps. My son is 3 and loves to glue fabric scraps and buttons onto card to make pictures. What a thoughtful gift for your customers!

  3.  by  Kerry

    I totally needed to read this! I am trying to get my work space more organized and this will totally help. I really like the idea of donating magazines. I have been meaning to find a place to do this because I have a ton!

    •  by  Isa Maria

      It’s one of my main aims this year Kerry. Things can easily pile up especially if you have a lot of other commitments.

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  5.  by  Mary Ellen

    I have had this bookmarked and FINALLY read it! Very, very helpful. One thing I tell myself when I start to stress over what to keep and what to let go is that by letting go of this fabric, tool or supply, I am blessing someone else. That helps me.

    •  by  Isa Maria

      Thanks for the tip Mary. I can see how that helps :)

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